Decision 2014

Capital Tonight: New groups seek to mobilize women voters

While Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis duke it out on the front lines in the race for governor, two new groups are working behind the scenes to influence the conversation.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how Red State Women and Planned Parenthood Texas Votes will to make their case to voters.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Gov. Rick Perry is making waves in New York once again, challenging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on his home turf while on a job-poaching trip. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to talk about that story and more.

FISCAL HISTORY

Former Houston Mayor Bill White is calling for a change in how we look at government debt and spending. He joined us to discuss his new book, “America’s Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse.”

WASHINGTON UPDATE

Plus, the Supreme Court heard arguments on a landmark media case and handed down an affirmative action ruling with implications here in Texas.

Dewhurst to Patrick: Release your tax returns

In the latest jab in the Republican race for lieutenant governor, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is formally asking opponent Sen. Dan Patrick to release his tax returns. “Dan Patrick has refused to release his tax returns despite numerous requests from the press, as well as public challenges from Todd Staples and Jerry Patterson in the primary,” the campaign said Tuesday.

The request is the latest in a string of attacks on Patrick’s financial past. Last week, Dewhurst came out swinging with a new TV ad, highlighting Patrick’s failed business dealings and bankruptcy filing back in the 1980s. Patrick walked away from about $800,000 in debt after a chain of sports bars he co-owned failed.

Tuesday, Dewhurst campaign spokesman Ryan Hecker said,

“After admitting to pocketing his employees payroll tax withholding and leaving a string of unpaid creditors chasing after assets held in a dizzying number of financial entities, voters are beginning to see the truth about Dan Patrick. David Dewhurst has released full tax returns from 2009-2012, and he is calling on Dan Patrick to provide the same transparency.”

Patrick has defended his financial past, saying he’s never tried to cover up his hardships. “I learned from that. It made me the fiscal conservative that I am because I am 63 today, I was 35 then,” he said in an online interview. 

 

 

New Dewhurst ad targets Patrick’s troubled financial past

Updated to include Sen. Patrick response.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is out with a new television attack ad today. The new 30-second spot is highly critical of Sen. Dan Patrick’s financial history. Patrick filed for personal bankruptcy in the 1980s, when fallout from the oil bust forced him close a chain of sports bars he co-owned. Many have been critical of the fact that he never paid back more than $800,000 in debts.

Patrick has defended his bankruptcy, saying he never tried to hide his troubled financial past. Patrick has used his history as an example of how Texans can overcome hardship, and attributes his success as a businessman to lessons learned from his past failures. “I learned from that. It made me the fiscal conservative that I am because I am 63 today, I was 35 then,” he said in an online interview. 

You can watch the full Dewhurst ad here:

UPDATE:

Patrick was quick to respond to Dewhurst’s attack, calling the negative ad a “string of lies, half truths, and a rehash of events from 30 years ago.” Below is a statement from Patrick campaign strategist Allen Blakemore.

“Six weeks before the Runoff Election and during Holy Week, David Dewhurst takes his campaign straight to the gutter.  Over the next seven days, he is spending over $1,000,000 polluting the airwaves, spewing raw sewage, and personally attacking Dan Patrick.  Mr. Dewhurst’s ad offers no excuse for his own record of failure to secure the border, failure to address property taxes that are driving people from their homes, and a failure to deliver a fiscally responsible budget.

Mr. Dewhurst’s negative campaign of personal attacks will fail.  The voters know David Dewhurst and his record, and over 70% have already rejected his message and are looking for an authentic conservative like Dan Patrick to lead as our next Lieutenant Governor.”

 

 

Republicans hold double digit lead in statewide races

Republican Greg Abbott continues to hold a double digit lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the race for Texas Governor, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey.

The poll puts Abbott at 51 percent, to Davis’ 37 percent. Those numbers are similar to the last PPP poll, conducted in November.
In fact, Republicans hold a double digit lead in every statewide 2014 race.

In the race for Lieutenant Governor, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte trails regardless of who her potential Republican opponent might be. Senator Dan Patrick, who came out ahead in the Republican primary, leads Van de Putte by a 16 point margin. A match-up with Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst puts Van de Putte 18 points behind.

Van de Putte’s Republican opponent will be determined in the May 27 runoff election.

 

Abbott blasts Davis’ private meeting with Obama

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is criticizing his democratic opponent’s private meeting with President Barack Obama today.

As was first reported here on Capital Roundup, Sen. Wendy Davis and President Obama met during his visit to the LBJ Library for the Civil Rights Summit. According to the campaign, “President Obama and Senator Davis briefly discussed the importance of the Voting Rights Act and its legacy in Texas.”

The Abbott campaign was quick to pounce on the closed-press nature of the discussion. Shortly after the President’s departure, the campaign manager Matt Hirsch released this statement:

“Sen. Davis stated last month that she would not shy away from President Obama’s visit to Texas, yet in another flip-flop, she instead decided to meet with him in secret – away from the public and refusing to mention what they discussed. We can only assume President Obama and Sen. Davis bonded over their shared support of ObamaCare and limiting Second Amendment rights. Texans want a governor who shares there values, not someone who wants to bring Obama’s big government agenda and failed liberal values to our great state.”

The White House has not commented on what the two talked about.

Wendy Davis to meet privately with President Obama

Sen. Wendy Davis will have a chance to speak one-on-one with the president today. Sources close to the campaign tell Capital Tonight Sen. Davis will meet privately with the president while he’s in Austin.

President Barack Obama is in town for the LBJ Library’s Civil Rights Summit, marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. He’s scheduled to arrive at the airport at 10:30 this morning, then head to the University of Texas campus, where the summit is being held.

Sen. Davis has been tapping into the Democratic donor network from all over the country in her bid to be the first Democratic governor elected in Texas since 1991. However, being linked too closely with President Obama in a red state, where he has consistently weak poll numbers since 2009, could hurt her efforts. Her opponent, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, has made suing the Obama administration over federal regulations a key part of his campaign speeches.

The Davis campaign is already connected to the Obama team in one sense: she has a joint fundraising effort with Battleground Texas, a group dedicated to turning Texas blue. The group is made up of several veterans of the president’s 2012 campaign team.

 

Railroad commissioner candidate says no link between fracking and earthquakes

The primary elections may be over, but several races are still underway. Ryan Sitton and Wayne Christian are the two candidates still facing off for their party’s nomination for a spot on the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the state’s oil and gas industry.

In an interview on Capital Tonight Monday, Sitton said he’ll encourage energy independence in Texas, including the growth in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. But when it comes to the possible link between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes, Sitton says he doesn’t believe there’s a connection.

“It seems unlikely that there would be a link, because the amount of pressure that’s required to generate seismic activity, in comparison to the number of wells we’re talking about seems to be a stretch,” Sitton said. “But if there is, the research needs to be done and we need to follow the signs.”

Earlier this year, residents of Azle, Texas bused to the Capitol to complain about frequent, low-level earthquakes. University of Texas researchers have shown most earthquakes happening in that region are occurring near disposal wells used in the fracking process. The railroad commission has hired a seismologist to look more closely at the issue.

Sitton’s Republican opponent, former state Rep. Wayne Christian, has also said he doesn’t see a link between fracking and seismic activity. In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Christian characterized any action from the railroad commission as an “answer in search of a problem.”

In the primary election, Sitton won 31 percent of the vote to Christian’s 43 percent. But Sitton said he is confident he will make up the gap now that it’s a smaller race, where voters have more of a chance to get to know the candidates.

Capital Tonight: Where does the equal pay issue go from here?

All eyes were on the race for governor this week — specifically the debate over equal pay between men and women.

Both Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Greg Abbott agree women should be paid the same as men for doing the same job. The disagreement is over a proposed state law known as the Texas Equal Pay Act, and whether Abbott would have supported it.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked back at how the debate got started and reviewed where the candidates stand.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

Will the equal pay issue mark a turning point for the Davis campaign, or is it too far out from November to make a difference? We discussed that question and more with Robert Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Mike Ward of the Houston Chronicle and our own Karina Kling, whose interview with Beth Cubriel of the Republican Party of Texas sparked much of the week’s debate.

CAMPAIGN FACT-CHECK

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is claiming his opponent, Sen. Dan Patrick, wants to increase the gas and sales tax. But is that claim true? Gardner Selby with PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us for a fact check.

Abbott clears the air on fair pay legislation stance

UPDATED to include clarification from the Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office

Weeks after first being asked the question, Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is taking a stand on a Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Act. He told the Associated Press today he would not sign a Texas version into law. The question was first posed to Abbott during an interview with WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics. Democrats began attacking his position on fair pay when he declined to take a firm position on the issue.

Campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch told the AP:

“Because wage discrimination is already against the law and because legal avenues already exist for victims of discrimination, Greg Abbott would have not signed this law.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis authored the Texas Fair Pay Act, which extended the statute of limitations for bringing lawsuits against employers accused of pay discrimination. The legislation garnered bipartisan support in the House and Senate, but was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry.

The issue moved front and center in the Governor’s race, when two high profile Republican woman stumbled in response to questions over the party’s position on fair pay. In one instance, Republican Party of Texas Executive Director Beth Cubriel told Capital Tonight that equal pay legislation was unnecessary. Instead, she said, ”Men are better negotiators and I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators.”

The Davis campaign was quick to respond to Abbott’s declaration. The campaign pointed to a San Antonio Express News report that the Attorney General’s office pays female assistant attorneys general less than male ones. In a statement, campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas said:

“On the day that Texans discover Greg Abbott pays women less than men in his office, he announces he would veto equal pay legislation that would help his employees address this discrimination. Texans are tired of business as usual from Greg Abbott and support Wendy Davis’ fight on economic fairness for all hardworking Texans.”

UPDATED

In an email to Capital Tonight, the Attorney General’s office said there are various reasons for pay discrepancies that are not gender related. According to the AG’s office, there are seven different AAG classifications and 50 unique job titles with “variety of job duties, experience and qualifications.”  Abbott’s office says some discrepancies in pay can be attributed to varying years of service and experience as a licensed attorney. Assistant Attorneys General also work in different legal practice areas which are “subject to different labor market forces, which means that salaries within an AAG classification will inevitably differ.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Capital Tonight: New fallout in debate over pay discrimination

The fight over equal pay for men and women continues in the race for governor, and the latest dust-up stems from an interview that aired here on Capital Tonight.

This time, Republican candidate Greg Abbott is responding to a statement made by Republican Party of Texas Executive Director Beth Cubriel about Democratic candidate Wendy Davis’ call for a state version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

“Is it really fair to clog up the courts with litigation that you can take through another avenue and put that ahead of litigation that can only go through the state courts? I don’t think so,” Cubriel said. “Men are better negotiators and I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators.”

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the slew of responses that followed Cubriel’s statement, and what the business community says the argument should really be about.

VIEW FROM CONGRESS

Congressman Lloyd Doggett joined us in-studio to comment on the governor’s race, along with how enrollment numbers are adding up ahead of the looming March 31 deadline.

Plus, our Capitol Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, debated the significance of the fight over wage discrimination.

UKRAINE UPDATE

And new updates from Ukraine are coming in every minute. Global affairs professor Jeremi Suri joined us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, including a very specific role Texas could play.